& Critics

Scaramouche at the Sarah Bernhardt

Even when we have mentioned before the Sarah Bernhardt’s  Theater in Paris (“Les Soirées de la Danse”), we have now been able to obtain a program from the 1954-1955’ season the Marquis de Cuevas’ Ballet Company performed on it and which accounts us over “Scaramouche”, a ballet created then specially for Wladimir Skouratoff.

Season’ program 1954-1955

The program has a valuable dedication by A.-M.Julien, at that time the Director of the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre, which we transcribe as follows:

“It was written, I don’t know on which misterious book, that we should meet again, my dear Marquis, at this rendez-vous on October 1954 at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre, to celebrate a common anniversary.”

“Ten years ago, indeed, in New York, your dance passion was objectively manifested; you created your first ballet. Ten years ago, I created with Mme.Lidova, who is so fondly devoted today to your ballet, and with Claude Giraud, today your excellent collaborator and my friend, the Dance Fridays at the Sarah Bernhardt.”

“Once a week, upon this stage, twenty young dancers were performing. During many years, only a certain official dance was manifested; we thought it was our duty to give a chance to the ongoing generation. And thus it was assembled this little platoon that would become the multiple gang of stars of today: Renée Jeanmaire, Colette Marchand, Janine Charrat, Nina Vyroubova, Nathalie Philippart, Ethery Pagava, Irène Skorik, Marina de Berg, Roland Petit, Jean Babilée, Serge Perrault, Christian Foye and others.”

“We were very poor to engage an orchestra, there was only a piano and behind this piano, for a little cachet that seemed huge to us (the pianist assured by himself the whole attendance of the program), one of the most astonishing composers of your own ballets of today, Jean-Michel Damase.”

“In spite of the cooldness, coal was spared then, since eight in the morning, Boris Kochno wraped up in a jersey and a wool scarf, was putting the lights on, and very often before the curtain was lifted, Christian Bérard was making a tutu or creating on paper some marvelous assembly of shapes and colours. And Dance took possession of our stage.”

“On July 1945 we impelled our effort even further, and then they came  some ballets like the wordly creation of “Rendez-Vous” de Prévert danced by Roland Petit and Marina de Berg, “Quadrille” with Renée Jeanmaire and Fenonjois, “Les Forains” on its first performance, a truly manifestation of this ballet’ renewal which, through those from Les Champs-Elysées, those from Paris, should flourish finally thanks to your own marvelours effort.”

“The Sarah Bernhardt Theatre is honoured today to welcome the great Marquis de Cuevas Ballet Company, and wishes this stage, this scenery to give him a warm reception and to gain the favor to hold him for many years to come.”


Jorge de Cuevas


Bronislawa Nijinska



The Company’ staff


The Ballets of the season 54-55

The program gives account, separately, of the performance on October 9th and 10th, on which they were danced “Swan Lake”, “Don Quichotte”, “La femme muette” and “Scaramouche”, this last specially created for Wladimir Skouratoff, with a choregraphy by Rosella Hightower and music by Sibelius, with the following cast:


“Scaramouche" synopsis figures at the season general program as follows: “To amuse his young wife, a husband gives a ball...A group of gypsies, leaded by the seductive Scaramouche, enters to dance for the guests. The young woman is fascinated by Scaramouche’s  rare charm and when the husband casts away the gypsies, she follows the seducer. The husband, restless and in despair,  is comforted by a group of friends; the rest of the guests leave the ball. The young woman, repentant and afflicted, gets back to her home, begging for forgiveness. But, hélas! Scaramouche has followed her and attracts her to adventure. Afraid to succumb to the strange gypsy’s attraction, the young woman kills the temptering one.”


It is evident that this story has nothing to do with the homonymous novel by Manuel de Sabatini, written in 1921. But we cannot avoid the recollection of the final duel between Scaramouche and the Marquis, on a 1952 famous film version, because such duel was being held on the stages of the theatre where the main character was hidden his true identity. Curiously enough, the picture which illustrates the program we are referring to shows us Wladimir Skouratoff on the Sarah Bernhardt’ stages, on a beautiful photo by Serge Lido. We could say, then, he would only need to brandish a sword on his hand to become the adventurer imagined by Sabatini.            


Photo: Serge Lido